STOP! GET BACK! NO! These, are words; shocker right? You know what else is shocking? Most of us don’t use them in moments of danger. I have done my fair share of scenario training. More often than not in my debriefing and review, the instructor and I both agree that I could have used my words more.
Here is why I, and we, don’t use our words in high stress situations: In a “survival stress” situation our heart rate goes above 145 beats per minute. Our brain goes into survival mode at that point and we no longer think logically and in organized sequence. We think like the stereotypical caveman: “Gun, move, run, shoot, ahh!” is about as close as we can get to a comprehensive thought.
When we go into this mode, forming a thought is difficult enough. Turning that thought into communicable words is something else entirely. In primal mode our brain can only think in single compartments, one at a time. Talking takes a compartment and moving and reacting takes a compartment. To be able to operate two compartments at the same time under survival stress conditions two things are possible, and one of them have to happen.
One: you are able to maintain a heart rate of under 145 bpm in a life or death situation. There is an exceptionally small number of people on this planet that can do this. Outside of an anomaly, these people are those that live in combat. They have spent so much time in combat, the stress of it has become diluted and is no longer exceptional.
Two: You train, and train a lot… Your run scenarios designed to increase your heart rate and elevate stress, then, you react appropriately; all while the instructor is yelling at you to use your words. I assure you, the reminder from the instructor will be the only way you remember to speak at first.
Using our words is important for a couple of reasons. First it helps establish that you are the victim to the witnesses. If there are any witnesses you have just told all of them by shouting as loud as you can “NO, STOP, GET BACK” or something to that effect. Secondly it helps you exhale. When striking and fighting, exhaling on force makes you more powerful. When you sync your strikes with your words, you naturally exhale, adding force to your strike.
I know that using words in high stress situations is no easy task, I do. However, as with so many aspects of self defense we can train ourselves to overcome some natural responses. Speaking during a survival stress situation is not a natural action, therefore, we must train it into our response. A little time and a little effort will be worth it. Words are not likely to dissuade someone on hell bent on violence. Your words will help you physically and psychologically, it’s worth the effort.
What can we learn?
- Words are good and can be helpful
- It is hard to use words in survival stress situations without training
- Scenario training is a great mechanism and I highly recommend it.
- Exhale during a strike to gain power, words naturally help you do this